AHEAD of the 2020 Open Women’s National Championship, we speak to Softball WA Chair Nicole Winstone about the challenges of her role and future of the sport in Western Australia.
1) What was your motivation for joining the board of Softball WA?
I joined the board as it is my opportunity to give back to the sport that has given me so much. I have been involved in softball for over 25 years in one way or another. I did walk away from the sport for a while to focus on my career but as I have progressed further and matured in my leadership, I always felt I was missing something. I am not interested in playing as it takes me too long to recover these days. I have spent several years coaching different sports and I just cannot commit to it, so I decided that my way of giving back to the sport was through joining the board. It is through this role I can support everyone from our most junior players to our potential Olympians, it all gives me a sense of achievement and I love seeing the entire softball community succeed.
2) How helpful is your background as a former State player?
Having a background in playing is important but it is not the be all and end all. Through playing and coaching over the years I have met many wonderful people who share the same passion for softball. I believe these relationships are the key to success. The forming of which has occurred over many years of involvement in the sport.
3) What is your vision for softball in Western Australia?
The sport of softball is competing against several other sports for participation. I want softball to survive, I want softball to be around in another 25 years and beyond, so we do need to do something now to increase the levels of participation, or at least hold on to the ones that we have. We need to work together as a softball community as the board are not the only ones who can change this, it requires a joint response. I am excited for the cultural changes that are occurring around softball. I am very big on accountability, transparency and fairness. It is important that people in our sport are held accountable for their actions, whether good or bad, timely feedback is very important. I want the people involved in the sport to hold me accountable for not only my position, but also decisions made by the board. Not everyone knows the role of the board, so it is important that I am in a position to communicate that.
4) What are some of the key issues facing softball in WA and how will the Board work through these?
a) Participation; b) Affiliation and c) Mirrabooka International Softball Stadium. Something big on my radar is post the Tokyo Olympics. We know that softball is not going to be at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, so we are going to have to come up with some strategies and ways to communicate the strategies to ensure the ongoing participation in the sport. Across the Nation we are all going to run into this problem, right now I don’t know what the answer is. However, I will be doing the right thing to ensure we are going the best we can as a board for the sport.
5) The lease at Mirrabooka expires in 2021, with a 10-year option, and the land has been rezoned to residential, so that would suggest Mirrabooka Stadium will be houses sometime soon. How is the Board working through this?
There is no doubt Mirrabooka International Softball Stadium will cease to exist sometime soon, which really is a shame. There is so much history in the building and around the grounds that will be lost when it is taken over. However, this is also an exciting time. We are working with the relevant stakeholders to ensure we do the right thing for the sport. What that looks like right now I don’t know. I do however have faith in the board that we will make the right decisions for the longevity of the sport. We will seek buy-in from the membership at the right time and we will be open and honest with our members throughout the process.
6) What does hosting the Gilley’s Shield mean to WA?
The 2020 Gilley’s Shield is really exciting for the sport. We are going to see some of the best players in the world competing at Mirrabooka. Western Australia has been lucky to host this competition for a few years now and we know this is our last year hosting this competition. We are lucky to be hosting it in the lead-up to the Olympics as it will attract the best players Australia has to offer and potential Olympians. We in WA are particularly excited that we may have our first WA softball representatives in the Olympic games in Tokyo. I think it is important that we don’t lose sight of the other competition that is occurring at the same time in Perth. The Under 14 Girls Regional Softball Championship will also be held in Perth. These are the girls that will hopefully be representing Australia on a national scale in the future. Hosting the two together is a huge advantage to the sport, it gives the Under 14s something and someone to aspire too.
7) Do you see the Olympic Games increasing the profile of Softball in WA?
In the short term yes, most certainly. The profile of the sport is very much linked to our participation in the Olympics in 2020 at this point in time. What happens post the Olympics is unknown at this stage however the board will be focusing their attention in this area to ensure the longevity of the sport.
8) Also, being the Officer-In-Charge at a busy Perth Police Station sounds like a big workload. How do you manage the combine demands of both roles?
Fifteen years ago, I swore an oath to protect and serve the community of Western Australia. I am very proud to be a Police Officer and running my own station has always been dream of mine. I have a team around me who I empower and trust to do their role in the community. I cannot always be there, and I cannot always be thinking about work. I am aware of the importance of having the appropriate work/life balance. My team know that I am always contactable and if needed, I will always return to the workplace to support them if needed. I make time every day for me, and I switch off from thinking about everything else that is going on and do something mundane for a while. This helps me to recharge and refocus on what I need to do. I like to ensure I start the day with a clean slate, so sometimes that might mean late nights or early mornings but it also ensures that when I am either at work or focusing on softball I am very much present and ready to devote what is needed from the position that I hold. It really is an honour to represent softball through my participation on the board. I love what I do for a career but I equally love softball. I was never good enough to reach the Olympics, or even be considered for a position, but I like to think that I am supporting softball, as well as all those playing softball, in other ways. I don’t have kids playing the sport, I have no other tie to the sport other than those formed over the last 25 years. I am keen to lead the board through the next 12 months, where we will need to focus our attention towards participation post the Olympics as well as a new facility for softball in Western Australia.
* The 2020 Open Women’s National Championship will be decided at Mirrabooka Stadium in Perth from January 4-10.